A Friend Indeed.

A friend of mine recently learned that her friend has cancer. This friend-of-a-friend chose to get the word out to most of her loved ones via a group message on a social media website. One of the people notified threw a fit because the word came via a mass message and not a personal phone call.

My friend wrote a rant about the insensitivity of that other so-called friend. I don’t know the person with cancer or the person who responded so angrily to the message, and I have to agree with my friend’s assessment of the situation. I won’t link or quote that assessment here to spare everyone’s delicate sensibilities. It was, in a word, pithy.

Many of us lament how modern technology seems to have diminished the personal touch, distanced us from one another. It seems to have put a wall between people and turned communication into something casual that many put little effort into. For me, technology makes it far easier to keep up with others.

I’m the sort of person who likes to sit back and watch. I’m not comfortable with getting into the middle of others’ situations, and I’m not terribly comfortable with inviting others into mine. I like my bubble, but I want to be somehow involved with the people I care about. Technology allows me to see what others want me to see and feel a connection with them that I wouldn’t have in real life.

Yes, I stalk people online. I stalk my friends, reading their status updates, clicking their links, looking at their pictures. I don’t always comment or “like”. I don’t always get to every single post. But I believe I am better connected with my family and friends because of social media.

In the situation above, the offended person began publicly insulting the cancer-ridden person on social media. Perhaps the insulting occurred in real life, as well; as I said, I only know what happened because the person I know wrote about it. The offended person obviously wanted to learn about important things in a different manner.

Someone you know just learned of a body-ravaging, life-eating disease in their flesh, and you want to pitch a tantrum over how you found out?

Consider how such a diagnosis affects a person! Perhaps the diagnosed person is too upset to talk to everyone in the family. Perhaps the person has already talked to a dozen or more family members and is now too worn out to speak with anyone else. Any tragedy takes a toll, and when you learn about it is not the time to express upset about how the news came to you.

I’m grateful to learn such news however I can learn it. I’m honored to be allowed to be a part of that person’s life and struggles. My preference would actually be to hear it in person, so that I could hug whoever got the news. What hurts most is discovering that no one wanted me to know. A mass message is better than no message.

Reality is far more convoluted than any television show could hope to present. Relationships are hard work, and both sides must give and take. Please, don’t kick people when they’re down. If there is a real offense, if you truly are hurt by some aspect of news-delivery, remember that you aren’t the only one suffering. Don’t destroy what you have. You may already be losing something precious.

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